Imagine a magazine with the culinary knowledge of The Daily Meal, the simplicity and humor of Buzzfeed, and the best drinking tips from, well, college students. This is the idea that Mackenzie Barth and Sarah Adler had in mind when they decided to start Spoon Magazine at Northwestern University in the spring of 2012. Now only one year later, the two seniors are graduating and plan to take their student magazine to the next, national level: they want to make Spoon the ultimate college food magazine.
“When I moved off campus my junior year, I came to this sudden realization that I needed to figure out how to grocery shop on a budget and cook for myself. I couldn’t just rely on the dining hall anymore,” editor in chief Mackenzie Barth told the Daily Meal. “When I looked for simple recipes that fit a budget, there were no food resources available specifically for college students. I figured that other college students probably had experiences like my own, and I wanted to create something that they could count on for food related questions and thoughts.”
Once Barth had the idea, she teamed up with fellow student Sarah Adler and they began to turn their vision into a reality. “I learned a lot about what goes on behind the scenes at food publications from my internships, and Sarah had worked at another magazine on campus. We definitely had the right tools to get it started,” she added.
Once the idea about Spoon was out on campus, students quickly got involved, and now they have 60 undergraduates on-staff to make sure that the magazine is producing the most professional content possible. Writers review the hottest restaurants on and off campus, come up with new dining hall-specific food combinations, and outline the cheapest and most interesting food and drink recipes for students. They have columns focusing on gluten free food, meatless Mondays, homemade treats, and Sunday morning breakfasts (perfect for the average hung over college student), and their eye-catching photography makes anybody want to take a bite of their homepage.
“We're trying to establish ourselves as a brand on campuses, hammer out the logistics of our decentralized campus-based system, and build relationships with national advertisers, sponsors and partners. We are also figuring out new ways to improve the site, always making it more interactive,” Adler told The Daily Meal.
At Northwestern, Spoon is a print and online magazine funded through advertising and school organization fundraisers. However, their expansion will begin online, in order to bring on board many schools in the simplest way possible. They will do this by launching a multisite, containing links to each participating school with their own branch. So far, they have discussed the expansion with students from University of Pennsylvania, New York University, University of Chicago, University of Wisconsin – Madison, and University of Illinois – Champaign Urbana. They plan to reach out to more universities by utilizing campus efforts and contacting specific students to found chapters, and also plan to launch the multisite within the next couple of months.
Barth and Adler have high hopes for what the next year holds. “We're very confident Spoon will be successful!” Adler said excitedly. “We've done so well at Northwestern, and we believe we've made something that people across the country want and need. We're ready to work hard to keep it growing.”
Skyler Bouchard is a junior writer for the Daily Meal. Follow her on twitter at @skylerbouchard.